11/06/2012 11:55 am ET Updated Jan 06, 2013

If You're Under 30, Vote Carefully Today

When you go and vote today, be guided by these two thoughts. The Supreme Court and The Rest of The World.

The Supreme Court.

The appointment of Supreme Court justices is the greatest power the president has to affect American society. A president's policies can be overturned by the next president, or prevented by Congress. A supreme court justice stays there for as long as he or she wants, often for decades. At the moment, the court leans to the right. If one more justice is appointed by one more Republican president, it won't lean right, it will fall completely to the right with dire long-term consequences, particularly for the young. Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was shamefully slowed down by Southern Democrats as well as Republicans, every worthwhile piece of social progress has come about because of Democrats and in spite of Republicans. In opposing the Civil Rights Act, one of those who opposed it said: "We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races..." This same conservative attitude still exists, but now almost exclusively in Republicans. They resist social equality for women, for immigrants, for the poor, and, when it comes to gay marriage you could almost lift the phrase "intermingling and amalgamation" and apply it directly. Not them! The same rights as us? Never.

The tragedy is that, just as Romney must now be ashamed of his church's institutionalized racism (which was still in place when he was an adult and to which he apparently did not object), so every decent human being will sooner or later be ashamed of their denial of civil rights to those who are still socially, judicially, and economically segregated. The key phrase is "sooner or later". People left out in the cold are knocking on the door and conservatives, like scared dogs clinging to the ankles of inevitable progress, are a literal drag, and some will freeze to death before the door gets opened. If you vote for the dog, you will, as Southern segregationists did, carry shame for the rest of your life.

The Rest Of The World.

I was not raised in America but I am an American. Like many recent immigrants, my love of this country is a matter of choice, it's deep, but it is not blind. I see America from the outside as well as the inside, a kind of 3-D perspective. And one of the things that amazes me is how little Americans seem to realize their future depends on how the rest of the world feels about their country. At one extreme, you have terrorism; in the middle you have countries more or less willing to help America combat terrorism; and at the other end you have a kid deciding whether to buy an American product or a Chinese one.

I say this not just as a foreigner but one who has travelled extensively and has roots in three continents: To be an American under Bush was to be a pariah almost everywhere else. Or a joke, if the mood was kind. To be an American under Obama was to hear the world sigh with relief, admiration, and renewed affection. America! What an incredibly limber country! One day the president was the entitled son of a former president, an arrogant, bullying, white frat boy, weirdly religious yet weirdly devoid of compassion, a man who consistently made policy designed to benefit himself and his rich friends. The next day the president was a highly intelligent, deliberative, bi-racial but essentially black child of a single mother whose every policy was against his own narrow self-interest.

To vote for Romney is to vote for another Bush, an entitled second-generation politician, another businessman intent on improving things for him and his wealthy friends, another man with arcane religious beliefs, a man who has already blundered abroad, another "Ugly American," another man the rest of the world will, I promise you, despise.

Somewhere there is a man at an airport or a border crossing who will look a little harder or a little less hard in the luggage of a traveller to America. Somewhere there is a child deliberating whether to buy Chinese or American. Your future may depend on their good will.